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Published: Tuesday, 11/11/2003

Lawmakers weigh in on I-280 span s name

BY JAMES DREW
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS - It s unclear what has been more difficult: building the massive I-280 bridge over the Maumee River or naming it.

Yesterday state Rep. Lynn Olman (R., Maumee) introduced a bill to name the bridge the “Veterans Glass City Skyway.”

“While respecting the input of those who took part in the naming process,” Mr. Olman said in a written statement, “we chose Veterans Glass City Skyway to honor the many soldiers who put their lives on the line to keep our nation free, to recognize our rich heritage as the Glass Capital of the World, and finally to illustrate that the new bridge will change the skyline of Toledo forever.”

The bill is co-sponsored by state Reps. Jeanine Perry and Edna Brown, both Toledo Democrats. It will be sent today, Veterans Day, to the House Transportation Committee.

Mr. Olman introduced the bill more than two years after the naming subcommittee of the Maumee River Task Force recommended that the bridge be named the Veterans Memorial Bridge or the Glass City Skyway.

The panel said those names received the most votes in mail-in balloting conducted in late July and early August of 2001.

In 2001, Mr. Olman and Mrs. Perry said they would introduce a bill to name the bridge “Veterans Memorial Skyway,” which they said blended the two names recommended.

But they canceled their plans after Cathy Mott, chairman of the naming subcommittee, said she thought two names would be forwarded to the legislature for a decision.

Mr. Olman said he and Mrs. Perry also decided to wait until they could consult new members of Toledo area s delegation to the Ohio General Assembly.

“We weren t entirely comfortable with Veterans Memorial Skyway,” Mr. Olman said.

He said “memorial” was dropped and “Glass City” added so that the name would honor veterans and also recognize the “rich heritage” of the glass industry in Toledo.

He compared the new Maumee River bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. That bridge has 16 letters in its name. Toledo s new one would have 23 letters. “It is a mouthful, but it better defines the bridge,” Mr. Olman said.

Mrs. Mott said she prefers Veterans Memorial Bridge because it received the most votes from citizens, but she said she understood the legislature would make the final decision.

A major question is what Toledoans will call the new bridge. Mr. Olman said it may be Veterans Skyway. Mrs. Mott said it could be the Maumee River Crossing, the I-280 bridge, the new bridge, or the Skyway.

“If the name clicks, it stays with the public,” she said.

Mr. Olman said his bill could be amended to another transportation-related bill but the plan is for it to move through the House and Senate as a stand-alone.

The goal is to get it passed through both chambers and to Gov. Bob Taft for his signature by the end of 2004, Mr. Olman said.

The estimated $220 million project is scheduled for completion in August, 2005.

State Sen. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) said she wants to check with the naming subcommittee members to determine if they agree with Veterans Glass City Skyway. She said she discussed the topic briefly with state Rep. Peter Ujvagi (D., Toledo) over the weekend.

“It s in my Senate district. It s in Peter s House district. If there was a change, I didn t know about it,” she said.

Brian Cunningham, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said the bridge s name is the legislature s decision.

The other bridges named by the legislature are the Thomas A. Edison Bridge on State Rt. 2 over Sandusky Bay and the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge on I-71 in Warren County.

“No matter what the name, it will be a truly superior structure,” Mr. Cunningham said.



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